College Over Zoom Is Causing Major Mental Strain

A college freshman shares her Covid-19 experience of entering the ‘real world’ from behind a screen

Mia Rheineck
Published in
6 min readNov 5, 2020


Illustration: Mark Pernice

When you’re an incoming freshman, everyone tells you that college will be one of the most exciting periods in your life. You move out, meet new people, and start a serious education at a new school. It’s supposed to be the ultimate fresh start. For me, that meant moving away from home, finally studying and fully investing myself in what I love, and having new opportunities to grow as a person.

But in March 2020, the excitement of ending my senior year of high school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and beginning my freshman year of college at Drexel University became a massive clash of stress and anxiety. One day, I drove home from high school and never went back. Looking back on March 2020, I remember the final week of in-person school as if it were one long blurry dream. During that last week, when coronavirus loomed over us, my classmates and I still jumped into a ball pit as part of a senior-year celebration, something that — even in a post-Covid-19 world — I will likely never do again. On what would turn out to be my final day of school, my English class went on a field trip to see a play, and at intermission, we sat staring at our phones, reading off the names of colleges that announced they were sending students home. Later that day, I told a teacher I wouldn’t mind moving to remote learning, granted I thought it would only be for a couple of months.

The months leading up to what was supposed to be my move-in date became weeks of deciphering vague university plans all while trying to have a “normal” college experience. I had envisioned my move-in day and welcome week as the time when I would meet new people, explore Philadelphia, find my way around campus, and take in-person classes. As I began to prepare to move out of my parents’ home, I received the dreaded email: My classes were moved to remote instruction, and there would be no on-campus living for the fall quarter. Suddenly my parent’s dining room became the new lecture hall, my childhood bedroom my dorm.